Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why Christians are leaving occupied Palestine

Bethlehem is dominated in equal measure by churches and mosques, a symbol of the increased diversity of the region's people. Since 1948 many Palestinian Christians have been living in refugee camps outside the sacred city. The Christian population in Bethlehem now stands at a mere 28% of the total population. Just as other Palestinians they face many challenges moving from one city to another due to Israel’s Apartheid checkpoints. It is virtually impossible for them to travel to the Gaza Strip which is home to some of the oldest Christian holy sites in the world. Likewise, Christians living in Gaza face many obstacles when travelling to Bethlehem or other holy cities in the West Bank. Since Shalit’s capture by the Palestinian resistance, only 20% of Gazan Christians who apply for permission are issued permits. People between the ages of 16-36 years are not allowed to travel due to security measures implemented by Israel .

Palestinian residents of Bethlehem are all subjected to the same military occupation. This includes going through humiliating military checkpoints, targeted assassinations, house demolitions, curfews and an Apartheid wall that encircles Bethlehem.

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